Sunday, February 27, 2011

4.0.6 Updates - While I was gone...

I'm back. Yes, I realize that that probably comes as a surprise to some of my readers. I left essentially without any prior notice, and didn't upload for over a month. There were no updates, and to be honest, I haven't even been checking site traffic, or reading comments, like a good blogger should. The reason? Life got extremely busy, and I've barely had the time to log into WoW lately, let alone blog about it. I'm not going to mince words here – life is more important than WoW for me, and although I hope I won't make another disappearance, if blogging starts to interfere with my job, or my friends, or whatever, those things are always going to come first. Sorry if that bothers you, but frankly if you have an issue with that, you should probably seek out another blog to follow.

Anyways, to business. A lot has changed since I was more or less forced into a leave, and I'd like to get you all up to date as quick as I can, so I can start getting into the real content again. But before I get into DK related items, I've got a quick list of blog-related housekeeping to get through.

First, I'm imposing a rough schedule on this blog. When it was created, it was with the intention that I would post when I felt like it, about what I felt like posting about. Format, and regular-content be damned. I write several columns in my “real life”, so I get more than enough deadlines without imposing them on a hobby. But, honestly, that clearly isn't working for me. I need a format, and a schedule to keep me writing. Otherwise I get lazy, and this blog is never going to become what I'd like it to be.

Basically, my schedule will be, generally a post Tuesdays (something to tide you over for patch day), Thursdays, and a weekend post. This is going to vary a bit, but at least I can promise 1-2 posts per week with my current schedule outside of this blog. That means no more random absences, if it can at all be helped (if it can't... see above).

Tuesdays will be editorial posts – musings and thoughts about the game, PvP, and the class in general. Thursdays are going to be my PvP-related content days, with posts about battlegrounds, arenas and whatnot. The weekend posts are going to be a mixed bag. For the time being, it'll be class-related posts (specs, rotations, abilities etc. - the works), because those generally take the longest for me to write, and weekends are when I have the most time. But if there's not a whole lot of class news to discuss, weekends may turn into a mix of content. We'll see how it all pans out.

SO – for the time being, Tuesdays = editorials, Thursdays = PvP content, and weekends (Saturday evening, or more likely Sundays) = Class content. Sound alright? Good. Moving on.

What you missed
Alright, so essentially, what you've missed since I took off in January was patch 4.0.6. Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably noticed the changes, but let me run through the ones that effect DK PvPers the most, since as I've said before, reliable news on DK PvP is horribly difficult to find these days. First off, DK changes. And there are a lot, so bear with me.

Class Changes - General
Death Coil damage has been reduced by roughly 10%.” This obviously is a pretty big nerf to UH, whether you PvP or not. Not a whole lot I can say here, since sadly, it's live and there's really nothing we can do about it.
Icebound Fortitude now breaks stuns when used, in addition to providing immunity to them.” HALELUJAH. It's about time, IBF was extremely situational without this feature, and was really only useful if you knew that a feral or rogue was going to jump you soon. This means we've got another way to get out of stuns (besides trinketing that is) and if you haven't been using this before – you should be now.

Necrotic Strike's absorption effect is now reduced by the target's resilience. In addition, its debuff duration has been reduced to 10 seconds, down from 15.” It makes me sad, but stacking necrotic strike was really just too good. A few well-played, co-ordinated Death Knights in a BG could wreak absolute havoc on healers, with NS stacking practically infinitely. Time will tell how good this ability now is, especially with resilience affecting it. This change does seem to contradict blizzard's previous statements that they wanted resilience to be a flat damage reduction, and nothing else, though.

The spell hit bonus previously given by Virulence (Unholy) has been rolled into the Runic Focus passive effect that all death knights possess.” What can I say? It's a bit of a buff, I guess, easily to hit the spell-pen cap if you aren't running UH, I guess. I'll take it.

Okay, so good news is that this spec has been buffed in general. Blood PvP is more viable than ever before, and I'll definitely be doing some testing to see how it stacks against other specs in terms of damage output (obviously it is much harder to kill, though). I'll skip the obvious buffs, since anyone can check the patch notes and see what got simply increased, and try to explain the more complicated changes.

Crimson Scourge has been redesigned slightly. Instead of a 50/100% chance to make the next Blood Boil free when Plague Strike is used on a target with Blood Plague, the talent now gives a 5/10% chance to provide a free Blood Boil when the death knight lands any melee attack on a Blood Plagued target.” Obvious question – is this a buff or a nerf? That's really hard to say. I'll have to run some numbers to sort that out, I'll keep you posted.

If Death Strike is used while a Blood Shield is already active, the new absorb will stack with the old one instead of replacing it.” This means moar absorbs. Pretty easy to understand. Basically, you can DS with basic impunity in blood spec, and it should be a main part of your rotation, if it wasn't already.

Scarlet Fever now applies via Blood Plague, rather than Blood Boil.” This appears to be a move by blizzard towards more single-target oriented dps? Again, I'll have to test this out.

Will of the Necropolis no longer refunds a Blood Rune when it resets Rune Tap's cooldown. Instead it makes the next Rune Tap free while Will of the Necropolis is active.” This isn't really a buff or a nerf. It could mean more Blood Tap, but it doesn't seem to really be a position to change the number of times Rune Tap is available all that much.

There weren't many changes to frost, essentially we got a root tacked onto our Chains of Ice, which is awesome. Before you jump for joy, do realize that it's nothing like the CoI of old, it just means a slight improvement over a pure slow. At the same time though, don't underestimate this change, a root is a root, and I love it. It gives CoI some great applications it hasn't really had since it became a slow, which I'll talk about in a future post. All in all, though, no really major changes to frost. It's still as viable as ever before.

Chilblains now also causes Chains of Ice to root the target for 1.5/3 seconds." See above.

Howling Blast now deals 40% less damage to all targets other than the primary target of the spell.” A nerf to HB's AoE capabilities, probably made to prevent a return of the Frost AoE Spec of Doom. Not a huge deal, just means less AoE output. I can live with it.

Hungering Cold now has a PvP duration of 8 seconds.” THANK YOU BLIZZARD. It was absolutely not fair that HC lasted so much less time than fear, entangling roots and other PvP CC staples. It wasn't much, and yes HC is an amazing CC. But it needed to be standardized, and I like the change, especially since in terms of “real” CC, HC is basically all frost has.

Might of the Frozen Wastes now also increases all melee damage by 4/8/12% while wielding a two-handed weapon.” Making 2h frost more viable. I'd say 1h will probably still come out on top, but since I run a 2h (at least till I have conquest to burn on the 1 handers), I won't scoff at a buff to my dps.

Sadly, the previous it spec of the season has been nerfed significantly. This is probably a change meant to make other specs more viable, but it's always sad when a major spec gets hit so hard. I won't go over all the flat nerfs (and most of the changes to the spec are just that), since you've probably read the patch notes anyways, and if you haven't noticed the lower numbers, the patch notes are available here.
Blightcaller (Mastery) has been redesigned and renamed Dreadblade. It increases all Shadow damage by 2.5% per point of mastery.” To be honest this change confuses me a bit. It is a buff to mastery for UH DKs and also a move towards less AoE-oriented dps. But what at first seemed to me a desire to make Mastery as important as haste to the UH DK didn't really pan out that way at all. Haste is still the stat to stack for UH DKs and there isn't really much reason to go out of your way to pick up mastery, except for when it's already included on gear, since haste is pretty much universally better.

Death's Advance (new talent): While both Unholy Runes are depleted, movement-impairing effects cannot reduce the death knight below 50/75% of normal movement speed.” This is a great new talent, and is definitely worth speccing into (I'll have a new UH spec including a change to DA as soon as I can manage it). But the change from the originally planned 100% possible bonus, is saddening. Your UH runes won't both be up very often, but popping Empower Rune Weapon definitely has the potential to make you a bit harder to catch. Time will tell how useful this talent proves to be.  
EDIT:  I missread this, the talent actually got changed back to 75/100%, meaning although you can still be rooted, you can't be slowed below normal run speed with you both your UH runes up.  ERW definitely has the potential to make UH DKs much more mobile.  /cheer for awesome talent!

Desecration is now also triggered by Necrotic Strike.” Although Necrotic Strike itself was nerfed, this is still nice, as you once your diseases are up, you should still be using NS against healers as much as possible.

Runic Corruption procs while the aura is already active now add 3 seconds to the existing aura duration, instead of simply refreshing/overwriting the existing aura.” This seems to be a nerf, since overwriting the buff obviously makes it last longer than adding 3 seconds.

Sudden Doom is now triggered only from main-hand auto attacks, and is normalized according to weapon speed rather than having a fixed percentage chance.” I'm not 100% whether this means more Sudden Doom or not right now. In keeping with the general theme of UH though, it appears to mean less – another nerf..
Virulence has been redesigned. It now grants 10/20/30% additional disease damage.” This is because of the packaging of the old effect of this talent into Runic Focus (see above). It's probably meant to make up for the removal of disease damage from our mastery.

Glyph of Dark Succor (new glyph) raises the minimum healing done by Death Strike from 7% to 15% of maximum health, but only while in Unholy or Frost Presence.” This give us another significant heal to use in Frost and UH, making both those specs a little more durable in PvP. Although DS costs the same as OB or SS, it's still worth using when short on health, despite the obvious reduction in damage by using it to replace your main big hit.

Glyph of Death's Embrace no longer refunds Runic Power when self-healing via Lichborne.” This means self-healing with Lichborne won't heal you as much as it used to (exact number escapes my mind at the moment, sadly). I think the addition of Dark Succor makes up for this, but I'm not sure if it will mean more or less healing overall, yet.

PvP Changes
The pretty enormous list of DK class changes aside, there were also some changes to PvP that I want to quickly run through.

First – “PvP trinkets will now clear disarm and silence effects.” This is a pretty big change. It means that not matter what is wrong with your character, basically, the trinket is a way out of it. Disarm especially will probably notice a serious reduction is effectiveness (Yeah, warriors, I'm laughing all the way to the Conquest Vendor). What this means is that you should adjust your attitude regarding when to pop your trinket. It shouldn't just be to get out of slows, take into account the possibility of silences and disarms as well.

Also, in our case, this means strangulate can be stopped with a trinket pop. This means that when hitting a healer, especially, you should consider that they'll probably pop their trinket to get out of strangulate, especially if it was used at a crucial time. Be ready with a quick mind-freeze, though, or ghoul stun (if you're running UH) if they do trinket, and all will be well. Forcing the enemy player to trinket is never a bad thing.

Bloodlust, Heroism, Time Warp and Ancient Hysteria can no longer be cast while in Arenas.” Thank you, again, blizzard. This was not consistent with the theory by blizzard that big spells (read: Army of the Dead, etc.) should not be castable in arenas, and it makes classes with access to these buffs more balanced in arenas. Of course – none of these were my buffs, so I'm not likely to complain, am I?

Also, in Gilneas - “The time it takes to capture a flag has been reduced to 5 seconds, down from 8.” This means faster capture times, and potentially more grabbing by enemy players (already a potent strategy in Gilneas). For the hundredth time, people, fight on the bloody flag.

Strand of the Ancients was also reworked to account for the ridiculous zerg-fest it had become since Cataclysm dropped. I haven't had a chance to test it out yet, but it seems much more reasonable.

First and foremost, the demolishers no longer have two extra seats. This means only the driver can be in the vehicle, and that the days of having CCers calmly slow every defender into oblivion from inside the demo are finally, mercifully gone. Also, damage from the cannons has been increased 200%, along with a 50% increase to their speed, making the cannons viable in Strand once again. Teleporters have also been reworked, so that they essentially put you where you need to be (by the gate that needs defending), rather than simply dropping you behind the gate. It could take a bit of getting used you, but the battleground should be much more balanced now.

Finally, Blizzard has made an effort to fix Tol Barad, which up until this patch had been hideously broken. Attackers will get a 200% bonus capture rate on their last cap to win, and defenders will get a 200% capture rate when holding all 3 bases, making it harder to take the initial base. This does make it a little easier for attackers to win, and although I haven't had a chance to get into Tol Barad since the patch, it should make it much more reasonable. Again, I'll keep you posted.

Well, this has been one ridiculously long mega-post, but that essentially catches you all up on what you missed while I was gone. Expect some relatively stable scheduling for posts in the future, and some more consistent content. Also, expect copious amounts of awesome. Anyways, that does it for me for now.

Until next time,

Practice Safe Death!